Where to start house cleaning?

echoooooApril 23, 2012

I've got to be one of the worst at cleaning my home. I work 10 hour days and by the time I get home I don't feel like doing anything.

I just don't even know where to start. I am disorganized and it seems when I have any time off, I find it more important to do other things.

I've gotten the "spring cleaning" bug but get overwhelmed as to what to do first. Any help is greatly appreciated.

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I've always found the best way to a clean a home is not to mess it up to begin with, and once you get to that point you will remove the overwhelming negative feelings you are having, and feel much better about yourself and your surroundings. It's all about developing a few useful positive habits instead of living with the remorse over bad habits.

We all have 24-hours in the day and not very many of us spend 5-hours a day doing housework. We no longer have to scrub and wax floors on our hands and knees and actually have enough conveniences to make the work fairly easy. You may find you will get more done if you get up 30-minutes earlier to do some of your cleaning, instead of trying to play catch-up at the end of the day when you are completely worn out.

I learned a valuable lesson from my artist son. He rarely watches TV because he says he'd rather create a masterpiece than watch a rerun of NCIS or listen to bickering talking heads which will do absolutely NOTHING for his pursuit of his art accomplishments. When you work all day (as he does), you have to set your priorities. I also think it helps to have a plan and do as much on a regular basis as possible. For instance, at our home if it's Tuesday night we do two loads of laundry and hang them in the basement to dry. I get up at 3:30 a.m. every morning (hubby gets up at 4:30 and then we walk), so I take the clothes down and fold them and bring them upstairs. That takes me less than 10-minutes.

Stop looking at the overwhelming BIG picture and try spending 20 'quality' minutes working on one project and enjoy the reward of a job well done. Literally set a timer and don't go over 20-minutes. When it rings, you're done! You'll be surprised what you can accomplish in that 20-minute period.

Start with the most obvious first (the public spaces of your home). Eventually you will find you can spend 20-minutes doing a closet. Don't just move a pile of things from one corner or flat surface to another, or from one room into another room; toss out what you don't need and put what you do need in its place. Make those decisions quickly and do as much as possible in that 20-minutes to eliminate the chaos. Carry a few plastic grocery bags in your pocket. Put things that go into another room in a bag and at the end of 20-minutes, put those things where they call "home" - including a bag for trash.

We keep a decorative basket at the stairs going to the basement. When I have things that need to go to the basement I toss them in that basket. The next time I head that way, I'll take the basket with me and deliver those things to where they need to go.

If you are the master of "dumping", take an extra minute to develop a new habit by putting things where they go the first time - only handle things once. Don't toss your coat/jacket on the sofa or a chair when you come in thinking you will hang it up later, go ahead and hang it in the closet to begin with. When you unload your groceries, finish the task. If you kick your shoes off, they also go in the closet, not in the front entrance for visitors to look at. That coffee cup, once emptied, goes back into the sink or dishwasher, not remain sitting on the coffee table for three days. Unfinished tasks will wear you out.

After a meal do the dishes AND after meal clean-up. Time it --- it takes about 7-10-minutes and it's one less unfinished task on your list of things to do. I can even sweep the kitchen floor in that length of time. You can spend 7-minutes now, or the rest of the evening thinking you will get around to it later.... You've eliminated more negative thinking and turned it into a job well done in a timely manner, and you won't cringe at the thought of an unexpected guest going into your kitchen for a glass of water because it's nice and neat.

When you get up in the morning immediately make the bed - with one person it takes about 1.5 minutes out of your day, with 2 people it's about 30-seconds.

When you change clothes, place them in your dirty clothes basket immediately. When you are finished folding a load of laundry, put it away. Develop a new "do-it-now-until-it's-finished" habit. By completing those small chores, it will help reduce the amount of time for the big chores.

Five minutes spent before you go to bed tidying up is going to help maintain some semblance of order in your life. In 5-minutes you can put most of the public spaces in your home in order. When you leave for work, you will come home to a positive environment, all for a measly 5-minutes in the evening.

In the bathroom, put things back where they come from, put your clothes away, spray the counter and sink with a spritz bottle of alcohol/water mixture (50/50 mixture - an inexpensive cleaner/sanitizer), and a quick wipe with a micro-fiber towel and everything is clean and sanitized.

Reduce the amount of "stuff" in your life. Start a box for the Goodwill and/or Salvation Army and get rid of the accumulation in your life. We don't have any magazine or newspaper subscriptions because they ended up taking over the house. I spend a couple minutes going through the mail when it comes into the house. Junk goes into the recycling bin, bills into the bill folder - not a heap on the kitchen counter or table.

Spend 20-minutes in one room each day until you have all your home back in order.

I can clean my entire home in 30-minutes, including two bathrooms, because I've eliminated the "fussy" stuff. It takes an additional 30-minutes if I steam the floors (we don't have any carpet) --- all because we don't dirty our house to begin with.

You don't say if you have a family, but if you do it's time to divide and conquer. All hands on deck. Dust cloths and mops are one-size-fits-all and not gender-biased ;-). Our theory was we all dirty it, we can all clean it!!! It also stays cleaner if you are the one doing the cleaning - whether you are 13 or 53.

Don't expect overnight success, but think of it as the age-old question about how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. One task at a time, one room at a time. You can do it!!!


    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 6:14PM
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Wow grainlady, what wonder information! Thank you for taking the time to write that.

It's just me and my retired husband that doesn't do much besides eat and sleep while I'm at work. He is really messy also. He doesn't see very well so he doesn't see what is getting messed up; stuff like a bad aim into the toilet bowl or crumbs dropping to the floor while he eats from his seat in the family room. Working in the garden to then walk into the house with his muddy boots, never seeing the muck he brings in.

Please don't get me wrong, he is the sweetest person and most doating person I have ever met. However he get's really offensive when I point out something that he does that I don't like.

Thank you so very much for your insight.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 7:02PM
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Would your husband agree to do specific tasks if asked? For example, suppose you asked him to vacuum the living room rug, scrub the bathroom sink (leave a sponge and bottle of Softscrub on the counter), and wash the sheets and put them back on the bed. The more specific you are, the better the chance of his doing what you want him to do.

For you, think about decluttering. The less stuff in the house, the easier it is to clean and keep clean.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 8:56PM
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You could try the "Flylady" approach. It's on the internet Flylady dot net. She breaks down housework into small tasks, you do one a day and as you work throughout all the rooms of your home, you hit everything. For example, she'll tell you one day just get up and get dressed. That's the assignment for the day. On another she'll tell you to shine your kitchen sink. Etc. If you do all tasks as assigned, within a month you'll notice MAJOR changes. And yes, she tells you to declutter for five or fifteen minutes a day. One day I started on my messy desk. I started and kept going for 45 minutes! Maybe that's too much, but I felt energetic that day, or maybe it was too much coffee! Right now my house is fairly clean except for one messy bedroom. And it's not mine! I piled all my excess stuff in a spare bedroom. I intend to work in there a little every day.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 8:26AM
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I've signed up with Flylady and have begun the "declutter" process. I am beginning to see if I get rid of the stuff it would be easier to keep clean but I sure to have a lot of stuff.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 10:46AM
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Set a goal of cleaning one room at a time, don't think of the whole house. Even if it takes you a month, it does not have to be done in a day. If you have children teach them to pick up after themselves. My boys had to put their toys away when they finished playing with them, never leaving any of them in the living room.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 8:54AM
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To answer the original question, Ms Flylady says you start with your kitchen sink, then your kitchen, then expand to other rooms. I've also heard you should start cleaning in your bathroom, since everyone "goes there". Ha-ha! But it's a confined, defined space, pretty easy to clean, so getting one room done will motivate you to do more...

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 9:09AM
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Lots of good advice here! I try to do a 5 minute pick-up everyday in every room. You may not get everything done, but it's amazing what you can get done in 5 minutes. Or, if I'm pressed for time, I'll do one minute in every room I'm in in the morning.
A second piece of advice: if you can afford it, have someone come in to clean every other week. This forces me to "pick up" thoroughly at least every two weeks. This also helps to keep things manageable so I don't get overwhelmed. And, I get less crabby about my husband making a mess if I haven't been the one to do the cleaning.

Good luck. I find that when my home is orderly and clean, my mind is much more orderly, too.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 2:24PM
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Some great advice out here! But what I would advice will be that don’t start cleaning the room one by one but do start with cleaning dust of each room, then moving to furniture fabric, mirror and glass, surface cleaning and finally to kitchen and bathroom.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 8:37AM
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I didn't answer your question sorry about that. I would start with the area people see when they come in your front door.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 9:14AM
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I can SO relate. My problem is that when I get started in one place, as I'm walking through to get a cleaning item or something...I see something else that needs to be picked up or cleaned and then I get side-tracked, not finishing what I started with to begin with. :) Sound familiar to anyone?

Through the years I HAVE gotten into the habit of picking up as you go and then there is also the multi-tasking part (like dusting or filing or going through paperwork while watching TV) There is almost always something you can be doing while "chilling" in front of the TV. You can also do some kitchen cleanup while preparing meals and you can do some simple bathroom cleanup when you are actually in there to do hair, make-up...or whatever :). Just take a couple of extra minutes to do something toward cleaning clutter or making it cleaner, like doing the mirror or cleaning off the counter top.

But, when it comes to DEEP cleaning, I find the one room at a time method works best. There is nothing quite like the feeling of getting that one room done from windows to light fixtures to closet shelves..and finally shampooing the carpet, that gives such a feeling of satisfaction. Standing in the doorway and admiring it may sound goofy, but that's what I do! YOU SHOULD TOO!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:47PM
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You might consider a one-time cleaning by one of those Merrymaid, Mollymaid services. They are pretty expensive (like $200 for a whole house), but they do a great job, bring all their own supplies. One your house is really clean once, it will be easier for you to maintain. As others said above, you can do a quick-clean of the entire house in a fairly short time. Or clean one room a day. If the problem is clutter, you should address that first. Get everything put away or thrown out or donate. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 8:50AM
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